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Old August 8th, 2017, 12:02 AM   #261
future.architect
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You'd think so, wouldn't you? This is something I've pondered for a long, long time. The fields of physics, astrology, biology, chemistry, healthcare, fitness and a range of other professions has excelled and advanced in the last 150 years, achieving things now that would have been other-wordly back then.

But architecture.... do you really believe that if we transported Waterhouse, or Lutyens, or Barry, Butterfield, Paxton.....etc, to the 21st century and showed them our modern architecture, that they would be impressed? I don't think they would. Perhaps, they would be impressed at the heights we've managed to take our buildings to. But I think they would find our buildings very lazy and basic, requiring almost zero skill whatsoever. They'd find buildings to be seen as not monuments as in their day but as sterile boxes designed only to make money, and nothing else. I imagine they'd find it all quite depressing, actually. Of course we'll never know....

But you're right in citing modern technology. Architects 150 years ago had a pen, paper and a ruler. Nowadays we have CAD systems, 3D printing and a whole wealth of other tools which measure precsisely down to the last micrometre. Virtually anything is possible in design terms. And yet what do the architects of today produce, on the whole? Bland boxes, clean lines, simplistic laziness disguised as "artistic" based on its very blandness. Then, almost as an admittance that they've designed a boring building, modern architects then - at last minute - decide to stick some random cladding on, or some sticky-outy-bit to add "interest". Interest with buildings isn't created by random shit tacked onto the side, it should be embedded within the very design. Archways, collonades, porticos, engravings - these things add interest to a building.

If the public had a choice between a building like the Town Hall and a building like Factory - both with similar budgets - I guarantee 90% of people would choose the Town Hall. Now I'm not necessarily saying a building has to be that ornate - that would literally cost a fortune nowadays, and is completely un-necessary. But what has happened to the refined-ness of such design? The simplicity yet elegance of Manchester's Palazzo architecture never ceases to amaze me. The beauty of order and symmetry created by the rows and rows of townhouses in West London. This is literally copy+paste architecture where the architect designed one building and replicated it but the resultant effect is one of complete and utter beauty and nowadays people pay a lot of money to live on streets like that.

As I said - the Vicwardians had the correct forumla. Why reinvent the wheel? There's no shame in admitting that a certain style is better than anything else, why should we try and continually reinvent things if they're already perfect?
I agree with you that some of the architectural lessons from previous eras should be re learnt. I just think that we should figure out our own style and try and advance it from what we had in Victorian times. If modernism is lazy then copying Victorian architecture verbatim must be much worse. It's literally the definition of copy and paste architecture.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 12:08 AM   #262
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I agree with you that some of the architectural lessons from previous eras should be re learnt. I just think that we should figure out our own style and try and advance it from what we had in Victorian times. If modernism is lazy then copying Victorian architecture verbatim must be much worse. It's literally the definition of copy and paste architecture.
I think a lot of DeTrafford's stuff is heading in exactly the right direction. I don't want over-the-top ornateness and gargoyles and all that kind of thing that adornes Victorian buildings. While it is beautiful on those buildings, I agree it would look silly in modern times.

I do love a colonnade though, and these combined with symmetry and order produces some gorgeous buildings, like Churchgate House




I don't understand the constant need to reinvent architecture and let it "express" the time it sits in. This politicisation of architecture is a very new thing. Why can't architecture be like, say, a cooking recipe? The best recipes are replicated no matter what the year is, simply because they're the best recipes, and people like them. Vicwardian architecture is the best recipe, and people like it, so why not continue it?
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Old August 8th, 2017, 12:30 AM   #263
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I think a lot of DeTrafford's stuff is heading in exactly the right direction. I don't want over-the-top ornateness and gargoyles and all that kind of thing that adornes Victorian buildings. While it is beautiful on those buildings, I agree it would look silly in modern times.

I do love a colonnade though, and these combined with symmetry and order produces some gorgeous buildings, like Churchgate House

I don't understand the constant need to reinvent architecture and let it "express" the time it sits in. This politicisation of architecture is a very new thing. Why can't architecture be like, say, a cooking recipe? The best recipes are replicated no matter what the year is, simply because they're the best recipes, and people like them. Vicwardian architecture is the best recipe, and people like it, so why not continue it?
You are contradicting yourself. You state that some things would look silly today (I would support gargoyles done in a contemporary fashion) yet you think that we should not try and re invent architecture. Which is it?

Again, colonnades and symmetry are not exclusively Victorian. They can be applied to any architectural style.

Of course there is a case for classical arts. There are classical forms of music and painting have not changed much in hundreds of years. But that is not to say that these arts have not been advanced. There are many composers who have been very successful at marrying classical music with new influences. There are many painters who have used classical methods with a contemporary twist.

The fact of the matter is that all forms of art evolve over time. Even classical music and classical painting. Architecture is no exception. Victorian architecture didn't appear in a vacuum. It evolved from previous styles.
Suggesting that architecture should revert to the form it was in 120 years ago is just totally unnatural.

When the Georgians rediscovered Roman and Greek architecture they had to adapt it to their needs. Similarly when the Victorians decided to revive Gothic they had to adapt it to modern needs and materials.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 12:33 AM   #264
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totally agree with this - vicwardian architecture to me is definitely the best recipe, but i think unfortunately now, its simply a matter of cost and a definite greed by developers to turn a larger profit for their investors.

during the periods of these older buildings labour was much less costly, and talented stonemasons were easier and cheaper to come by - and (im generalising here) these construction businesses were often family owned, and throwing in the odd folly element or gargoyle feature here and there would make a statement building, to get their name out there and reflect on the quality of their business - to get the edge over competitors.

now developers i think know they can simply get away with throwing up a concrete tower and plaster it in horrific anodised cladding / plastic rain screen and thats that, and these sell out so quickly that they need not bother making anything better. theres such a demand for housing right now that i think they know that they can push it and get away with it, as long as it meets the councils target for getting more people living in the city and activating the odd frontage here and there, itll sail through planning.

if it sells, they will keep doing it in my opinion, if a business is looking to please its investors, theyll throw up an X1 mediacity monster and get it sold and move on - even though it has no architectural features to be proud of.

its such a shame really to see it happening, as we are capable of so much better. but if the council is taking a back seat and letting private investment do whatever they like, then they will keep throwing up horrid rain screen boxes


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Originally Posted by VDB View Post
I think a lot of DeTrafford's stuff is heading in exactly the right direction. I don't want over-the-top ornateness and gargoyles and all that kind of thing that adornes Victorian buildings. While it is beautiful on those buildings, I agree it would look silly in modern times.

I do love a colonnade though, and these combined with symmetry and order produces some gorgeous buildings, like Churchgate House




I don't understand the constant need to reinvent architecture and let it "express" the time it sits in. This politicisation of architecture is a very new thing. Why can't architecture be like, say, a cooking recipe? The best recipes are replicated no matter what the year is, simply because they're the best recipes, and people like them. Vicwardian architecture is the best recipe, and people like it, so why not continue it?
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Old August 8th, 2017, 01:00 AM   #265
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totally agree with this - vicwardian architecture to me is definitely the best recipe, but i think unfortunately now, its simply a matter of cost and a definite greed by developers to turn a larger profit for their investors.

during the periods of these older buildings labour was much less costly, and talented stonemasons were easier and cheaper to come by - and (im generalising here) these construction businesses were often family owned, and throwing in the odd folly element or gargoyle feature here and there would make a statement building, to get their name out there and reflect on the quality of their business - to get the edge over competitors.

now developers i think know they can simply get away with throwing up a concrete tower and plaster it in horrific anodised cladding / plastic rain screen and thats that, and these sell out so quickly that they need not bother making anything better. theres such a demand for housing right now that i think they know that they can push it and get away with it, as long as it meets the councils target for getting more people living in the city and activating the odd frontage here and there, itll sail through planning.

if it sells, they will keep doing it in my opinion, if a business is looking to please its investors, theyll throw up an X1 mediacity monster and get it sold and move on - even though it has no architectural features to be proud of.

its such a shame really to see it happening, as we are capable of so much better. but if the council is taking a back seat and letting private investment do whatever they like, then they will keep throwing up horrid rain screen boxes
That's not really an accurate analysis. The Victorians where probably more motivated by capitalism than we are today (try reading about the working conditions for the average person). I find it hilarious that people do not think that half of Manchester was not built for profit or investors when the buildings are warehouses and factories. If you think that private investment is doing what it likes now you should have seen what it was like in Victorian times. Our large railway termi where built over entire districts of poor quality housing. The railway companies had no obligation to rehouse the thousands of people made homeless.

And whilst X1 is ugly I believe it will be well built and safe. All the dwellings will be warm and dry with sanitary plumbing. They will be energy efficient. All of the dwellings will have windows and good ventilation. It is not going to subside or collapse. The same can't be said from some of the worse buildings built in Victorian times.

You are right that the cost of hiring masons to carve fine stone was orders of magnitude cheaper than it would be today simply because of modern economics.

But cheapness isn't the reason that modernism became the style du jour. In Victorian times brick was the rain screen of the day.

Architects don't design modernist buildings because they are cheap (some of the more expressive modern buildings are far from cheap) but because they believe that modernism is most honest and appropriate style for our time.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 01:01 AM   #266
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There were probably some pretty awful buildings back in the day too. Difference is, most of them would have been demolished by now.
Isn't that just an admission of what is being argued here: "a lot of modern buildings are junk should be demolished"?
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Old August 8th, 2017, 01:30 AM   #267
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Old August 8th, 2017, 02:12 AM   #268
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but i think unfortunately now, its simply a matter of cost and a definite greed by developers to turn a larger profit for their investors.
There's an element of 'greed' to any investment, but there's also an element of realism at play here, which is often ignored.

This is not London. The sort of exorbitant prices that can justify the 'quality' of many developments there simply don't exist here.

Now I'm certainly not saying that explains every design decision which is made. However, theres a certain irony in the fact that many of the people (not, in the main, on this forum, I should add) who complain about the quality of Manchester developments are the same people who can also be heard complaining the loudest about property prices and 'gentrification'.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 10:53 AM   #269
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There's an element of 'greed' to any investment, but there's also an element of realism at play here, which is often ignored.

This is not London. The sort of exorbitant prices that can justify the 'quality' of many developments there simply don't exist here.

Now I'm certainly not saying that explains every design decision which is made. However, theres a certain irony in the fact that many of the people (not, in the main, on this forum, I should add) who complain about the quality of Manchester developments are the same people who can also be heard complaining the loudest about property prices and 'gentrification'.
So the idea is to get no quality, no style, no social awareness, no consultation, no effort on style, decreasing sizes, not seek ways to optimise community and psychological well-being, combat air pollution, seek no S106 commitment, no affordable solutions in the housing crisis, overpricing and give developers free reign for the lowest quality they can create, to sell the city to investors, sell public spaces, minimise public realm and in the drive to call this luxury and progressive? Imagine you might be in a property or a developer?

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Old August 8th, 2017, 11:04 AM   #270
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So the idea is to get no quality, no style, no social awareness, no consultation, no effort on style, decreasing sizes, not seek ways to optimise community and psychological well-being, combat air pollution, seek no S106 commitment, no affordable solutions in the housing crisis, overpricing and give developers free reign for the lowest quality they can create, to sell the city to investors, sell public spaces, minimise public realm and in the drive to call this luxury and progressive? Imagine you might be in a property or a developer?
Imagine you might be talking out of your a**e.

As much as I respect the work you did for LRFS, you seem to have descended into an echo chamber of late. Dismissing people (as you also do on your Shield page) out of hand, who try and bring some level of reality to the debate, doesn't make that reality go away.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 11:18 AM   #271
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Oh well! Keeps me busy. And will continue.

The presentation of zero aspiration, social responsibility and for people to be involved in their city, is that pointless task others are getting involved in.

If we go down the lowest denominator of developers excusing poor design, poor outcomes, maximum profits for cheap builds, doesn't seem to be a good outcome for the city.

Besides, helping organise an event with CEG, their architects and others for a focus group. What a shame.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 11:23 AM   #272
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Oh well! Keeps me busy. And will continue.

The presentation of zero aspiration, social responsibility and for people to be involved in their city, is that pointless task others are getting involved in.

If we go down the lowest denominator of developers excusing poor design, poor outcomes, maximum profits for cheap builds, doesn't seem to be a good outcome for the city.

Besides, helping organise an event with CEG, their architects and others for a focus group. What a shame.
Except I haven't suggested that any of that is 'pointless'.

Why don't you give it a rest with the straw man arguments?
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Old August 8th, 2017, 11:24 AM   #273
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Oh well! Keeps me busy. And will continue.

The presentation of zero aspiration, social responsibility and for people to be involved in their city, is that pointless task others are getting involved in.

If we go down the lowest denominator of developers excusing poor design, poor outcomes, maximum profits for cheap builds, doesn't seem to be a good outcome for the city.

Besides, helping organise an event with CEG, their architects and others for a focus group. What a shame.
You don't take criticism well do you?
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Old August 8th, 2017, 11:26 AM   #274
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Happy days then!

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Old August 8th, 2017, 11:28 AM   #275
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You don't take criticism well do you?
Ironic, considering how much he likes dishing it out.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 11:34 AM   #276
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Certainly beginning to bother me less and less.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 06:17 PM   #277
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Isn't that just an admission of what is being argued here: "a lot of modern buildings are junk should be demolished"?
My point is that buildings of today probably aren't worse than buildings of before. The only difference is that many of the old eyesores have long been demolished so it's mostly the nice ones left. If you look around, there are still quite a few diabolical old buildings still hanging around. As long as construction keeps going, a lot of the new buildings today will eventually have had their use and need to be demolished to make way for newer and bigger buildings in the future.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 08:09 PM   #278
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anyone feel a lion king song coming on...
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Old August 8th, 2017, 08:35 PM   #279
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My point is that buildings of today probably aren't worse than buildings of before. The only difference is that many of the old eyesores have long been demolished so it's mostly the nice ones left. If you look around, there are still quite a few diabolical old buildings still hanging around. As long as construction keeps going, a lot of the new buildings today will eventually have had their use and need to be demolished to make way for newer and bigger buildings in the future.
I like Manchester Crown Court, and Albert Bridge House, and Peter House, and the CIS Tower, and Beetham Tower, and a number of other buildings from after 1945. But for each of them I can name two or three or four old buildings I also like. If so many pre-1945 buildings have been lost, how come they still outnumber newer buildings in terms of quality? It has been seventy years and yet the architectural legacy is still rather skimpy.
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Old August 8th, 2017, 09:00 PM   #280
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I'll start by saying it isn't hard to put together a collage of the worst (greyest) buildings in a city and claim it looks awful.

I'll follow that by saying this is simply a matter of taste. Whether or not you think an architectural style is better is your opinion.

I think van der Rohe, Foster, Rogers, Ingels, Herzog & de Meuron etc etc have designed and built some of the most beautiful, practical, and innovative structures on the planet and frankly I find it laughable that people are dismissing decades of fantastic architecture because of a preoccupation with and romanticism for the past.
But again, this is my opinion, and no I don't think everyone should conform to my preference in architectural style and neither should any of you as has been suggested in this thread. Variety is the spice of life, and gives the city vitality.

You know what happens when you try to build everything in styles like this but with modern constraints, a lot of the time you get guff like the buildings opposite the town hall instead of a Number One St Peters Square, and don't "No True Scotsmen" those buildings by claiming that all you guys want is the (incredibly idealised and so far barely realised) renders of the likes of deTrafford. They are the exception, and by all accounts are struggling to get their developments built, somewhat proving the point.

Practicality is a huge issue whether you want to admit that or not.

We do not rule the waves anymore. We're not building glorious warehouses with the outrageous riches of our nation to make our international dick look bigger.

We're developing housing for the poorest in society, accommodation for students, office space that has very strict requirements, and apartments in a difficult economy. It's utterly ridiculous to bemoan us not building monuments worthy of the streets of Kensington on every street in Manchester. The world doesn't work like that.

As for developers building for profit. Heaven forbid, I thought they did it out of the goodness of their heart.

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